The Spring Carnival action moves to Geelong on Wednesday for the Group 3 Geelong Cup (2400m) in which international galloper Withhold is a dominant favourite.
Roger Charlton’s UK stayer will be making his Australian debut ahead of bid to win the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) and is the one they have to beat at Geelong.
The Geelong Cup is a handicap run over 2400m and is traditionally one of the strongest country cups. It is typically a strong guide towards the Melbourne Cup.
Three recent Geelong Cup winners won the Melbourne Cup in the shape of European-trained Media Puzzle (2002), Americain (2010) and Dunaden (2011). Gatewood (2012) and Qewy (2016), meanwhile, are other internationals to have won the Geelong Cup.
The most talented horse in the Geelong Cup field and a deserved favourite. The six-year-old gelding makes his Australian debut and will be having his first start since winning the Northumberland Plate (3269m), Europe’s richest two-mile handicap, by 2.75 lengths from A Prince Of Arran in June. His previous start saw him win the prestigious Cesarewitch Handicap (3621m) last October and his front-running style will make him hard to beat. A Prince Of Arran has backed up Withhold’s form when finish behind Yucatan in the Herbert Power Stakes (2400m).
— Andrew Bensley (@AndrewBensley) October 19, 2018
Chris Waller’s Finche will be making his Australian debut having been previously trained in the UK. The five-year-old will carry the familiar colours of his sire Frankel and, like Withhold, is a front-runner. Finche has form around Cracksman and Avilius and is the heighest rated runner in the field, conceding 1kg to Withhold.
Yogi is one of five runners in the race for trainer Darren Weir. He has been out of luck in four start this preparation since signing off last prep with victory in the Listed Adelaide Cup (2500m). The six-year-old was third behind Avilius and Jaameh in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington last start.
The Liam Howley-trained Midterm is still searching for a first win in Australia after four starts since arriving from the UK. He was tried at Group 1 level last start in The Metropolitan (2400m) at Randwick and finished a sold, if unspectacular, fifth. Needs to find improvement to trouble those ahead in the betting markets.
NORTHWEST PASSAGE ($9.50)
Northwest Passage has been well-backed in the lead-up to the Geelong Cup and Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott may have a live outsider on their hands. The five-year-old racked up a hat-trick of wins at the start of the year, but hasn’t won this prep. He was fourth behind Yogi in the Group 3 Bart Cummings (2500m) at Flemington last time.
WITHHOLD can continue the domination of the major staying events this Spring Carnival by internationals and follow the likes of Benbatl and Best Solution and win Down Under.
Overseas gallopers have a great record in the Geelong Cup and Withhold’s form suggests little should change in that respect despite his prohibitive odds as the race favourite.
He impressively won the Cesarewitch Handicap (3621m) almost 12 months ago two starts back, and has had just one run since when taking out the Northumberland Plate (3269m) earlier this year. But even first up he should be too good for his rivals on Wednesday.